Reading Rambling for 7/29/12

Reading
Ramblings

Date: July 29, 2012,
Ninth Sunday after Pentecost

Texts:
Genesis 9:8-17; Psalm 136:1-9; Ephesians 3:14-21; Mark 6:45-56

Contextual
Notes:
We remain in the longest season of the Church
Year, the non-festival season of Ordinary Time. Except for a few
other festival Sundays, Ordinary Time will continue until the
beginning of Advent. This time of the liturgical year focuses us on
the work of the Holy Spirit and the Church in light of the
resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. The readings will not
always neatly line up together to form a common theme, but the Gospel
and the Old Testament readings will normally support one another.

Genesis 9:8-17: An
interesting new beginning. Noah and family step off the ark and the
first thing God does is promise He won’t destroy the world through
flood again. Why would this promise be necessary? It would only be
necessary if both Noah and God understood that the flood’s purpose
was not the elimination of sin and rebellion and all the other
effects of the Fall in Genesis 3. The flood is not God’s attempt to
reset creation, and both Noah and God know that. So a promise is
necessary – Noah needs to know that his sinfulness will not result
in the destruction of the world again. Seen in this light, the
beautiful promise and sign of God in the rainbow have a very dark
undertone. We continue to live in rightful fear of a God who has
created all things and is capable of all things. Yet it is this God
who comes to us in promise and grace, not to destroy but to save and
to continue in relationship with.

Psalm 136:1-9: A hymn of
praise to the only one worthy all praise and honor, our God the
Creator Father. He who created all things is the only one deserving
of the worship of all things. The appointed verses for this morning
focus on his creative acts of wonder, but the Psalm continues to
extol the Lord’s power through means we might find somewhat
questionable – the protection of his people and the destruction of
the enemies of his people. These are not contradictory natures of
God, but they do reflect that the righteous and holy God who brought
all things into being does not treat lightly those who destroy his
creation in rebellion.

Ephesians 3:14-21:
One of Paul’s beautiful benedictions, focusing and directing the
readers to the love of God – the same love that gave Noah the
promise of the rainbow and has now revealed that love again in the
life, death, resurrection, ascension, and promised return of his Son,
Jesus the Christ. This is a God truly worthy of all praise – not
because our praise is so valuable and precious, but because God is
God! This is the God that we pray to, who dwells within us through
His Holy Spirit, and who intercedes with us constantly before our
heavenly Father.

Mark 6:45-56:
The
5000 have eaten to their satisfaction, and in typical Mark fashion,
Jesus acts decisively and immediately. Perhaps there was the fear
that the people would seek to lay hold of him, to force him to be
their king, thus bringing danger to themselves and a premature end to
Jesus’ ministry. Perhaps it was simply a desire that his disciples
have some time alone, or that He have some time alone. For whatever
reason, the disciples are sent off by boat while Jesus spends time in
prayer.

It’s
hardly a relaxing trip for the disciples. Some of them at least were
quite experienced with boats and sailing and yet even they had not
been able to successfully get the boat to shore. If we assume the
disciples left close to 6pm, around the beginning of the first watch
of the night, it was now probably 3am or later in the morning – not
much sleep had been gained, and the disciples who had been exhausted
first from their missionary journey, then by acting as waiters for
the feeding of the 5000, are now probably strained to the breaking
point by the relentless wind against them.

Jesus
strolls onto the scene, walking on the water and demonstrating his
mastery over the natural elements. The disciples are terrified –
what other response is appropriate when the Lord of Creation
demonstrates his mastery? Yet there is the reassuring and loving God
again, soothing their fears as God had soothed Noah’s unspoken fears
so many centuries before. Do
not be afraid. Don’t worry. I’m not here to hurt you
.
His presence changes everything. The wind ceases to oppose them,
and they have no ability to comprehend what all of this means. Still
early in Jesus’ ministry, Peter has yet to make his profession of
faith in Jesus as the Messiah, and Jesus has not revealed his
divinity on the mount of Transfiguration. The disciples don’t know
what to make of this strange teacher that walks on water, calms the
wind, and feeds the masses out of nothing.

But the crowds know one thing: Jesus brings healing. His arrival is
cause for a flurry of activity. While people don’t understand about
the nature of God with Us, they understand the effects of God with Us
– those things that cause us fear and struggle are removed. Hunger
is satisfied, nature is tamed, sickness and disease are banished, and
death itself is shown the door. We do not need to completely
comprehend the miracle of the Incarnation of the Son of God to
receive the benefits of his presence (fortunately for us!).

Throughout the readings for today we see a God of love, concerned for
the fears and worries of his creatures, even though his creatures are
incapable of understanding their God and his love. All we can do is
trust him in what He says on the basis of His Son, and live our lives
in that faith and trust, awaiting and expecting his presence and love
and concern for us in all of our needs.

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